We are working with the government for setting up an innovation and design centre that will help diversify the apparel export basket.
If we can boost the production of non-cotton man-made fibre (MMF) items, it will unlock endless potentials for Bangladesh as the MMF products have been dominating the global market for the last couple of years.
The MMF products now hold about 70% of the global apparel market as Bangladesh's production is still walking in just the opposite direction. Cotton-based items account for 70% of our export, while non-cottons are only 30%.
The non-cotton market is ready; we just need to grab it. But since the MMF industry is very capital-intensive, we need government support to establish a stronghold in non-cotton manufacturing.
If the government incentivises MMF product-making, we will be able to add another $20 billion export to the non-cotton categories within the next five year.
Large-scale investments enable Chinese MMF industry to be very cost effective, and they have emerged as a major player in the international MMF market. Being the close neighbours to China, Vietnam and Cambodia are also getting the investment benefits.
In our country, a number of garments have already expanded their capacity on non-cotton items. Our production units are ready, our workers are skilled, we now need the government to stand by us for a jumpstart that promised an additional $2 billion export to our current clients this year.
The government has been providing apparel makers with cash incentives since 2009 for their exports to newer markets. The support has met with satisfactory outputs as our market share edged up to 17%.
The BGMEA has plans to explore apparel markets in China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and Mildest once the pandemic situation improves. Besides, the Maldives has potentials for tourism apparels and traditional clothes too. Singapore and Malaysia also can be two key export destinations for Bangladeshi products.
Faruque Hassan is the president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA)